Moment of truth for women's hopefuls

Two qualifying groups will be settled in second against first deciders on Thursday as Spain and Russia aim to pip England and Norway in a thrilling end to 18 months of fixtures.

Norway are hoping to follow Germany into the finals
Norway are hoping to follow Germany into the finals ©Getty Images

Three UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying groups will be settled in second against first deciders on Thursday as Spain, England, Russia and Norway aim to join hosts Finland, holders Germany, Sweden, Denmark and France in the finals as pool winners.

Decisive fixtures
France clinched qualification with a victory against Iceland on Saturday and Denmark followed suit by beating Ukraine on Wednesday, while Sweden and holders Germany had already won their groups to book their places alongside hosts Finland in the finals from 23 August until 10 September next year. Les Bleues and Denmark overtook their rivals with their home wins and that is what Spain and Russia aim to achieve against England and Norway respectively, albeit by larger margins.

Play-off bids
Meanwhile, Switzerland's 3-0 loss against Germany on Wednesday confirmed Slovenia and the Republic of Ireland in the ten-team play-off draw on 6 October along with Ukraine. Already there were weekend winners Scotland and the Netherlands, as well as Iceland, the Czech Republic and Italy, to be joined by the sides that miss out in the two group deciders. The six runners-up go into the play-offs on 25/26 and 29/30 October along with the four third-placed teams with the best record against the rest of the top quartet in their pool. Full standings can be found here, click on the individual groups for fixture details.

Group 1

• England's 5-1 win in the Czech Republic on Sunday moved them three points clear of Spain – who they visit on Thursday night.

• England beat Spain 1-0 at home and will win the group unless they lose by two goals or more. They are able to afford an exact reverse of their previous result due to their margin of victory at the weekend improving their goal difference.

• The Czech Republic will finish behind both England and Spain but they will definitely go into the play-offs as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Group 2

• Sweden, following eight wins and 31 unanswered goals, won the group.

• Italy will finish second as they cannot be overtaken by Ireland due to their superior head-to-head record even if they lose to Hungary on Thursday.

• Ireland are confirmed as one of the four third-placed teams in the play-offs following Switzerland's loss to Germany, despite their own 1-0 defeat in Sweden on Wednesday.

Group 3

• France's 2-1 win against Iceland gave them first place and left their opponents in the play-offs as runners-up.

• Slovenia will finish third after their Thursday opponents Greece, who had hoped to catch them, lost 5-0 at home to Serbia on Saturday to end in last place. Slovenia were, like Ireland, confirmed in the play-offs after Switzerland suffered defeat by Germany.

Group 4

• Germany, aiming for a fifth consecutive title, clinched qualification in May and after beating Switzerland have won all eight of their games.

• The Netherlands moved into second after a 3-0 win against Belgium ended their neighbours' hopes and Switzerland's loss confirmed that position.

• Switzerland finished third but their record was not sufficient to reach the play-offs.

Group 5

• Denmark needed to beat Ukraine in Viborg on Wednesday and their 1-0 took them through. Ukraine will go into the play-offs as runners-up.

• Scotland's 6-0 win against Slovakia on Sunday clinched third place and a play-off berth.

Group 6

• With seven wins and 26 unanswered goals, Norway are three points clear of Russia, who they meet on Thursday in Krasnoarmeysk.

• Russia, 4-1 winners in Poland on Saturday. lost 3-0 in Norway last October so must win by four goals or more to top the group on head-to-head record. If Norway lose 3-0 they will win the group on goal difference.

• Austria were confirmed in third place by Poland's loss to Russia but their record will not be sufficient to go into the play-offs.

TEAMS IN FINALS (7 berths+5 from play-offs, draw 18 November in Helsinki): Finland (hosts); Sweden (Group 2); France (Group 3); Germany (Group 4); Denmark (Group 5).

TEAMS CONTENDING FOR FIRST PLACE/ASSURED AT LEAST PLAY-OFF: England, Spain (Group 1); Norway, Russia (Group 6).

TEAMS IN PLAY-OFFS (draw 6 October in Nyon, two places remain): Czech Republic (Group 1 third place); Italy (Group 2 runners-up); Ireland (Group 2 third place); Iceland (Group 3 runners-up); Slovenia (Group 3 third place); Netherlands (Group 4 runners-up); Ukraine (Group 5 runners-up); Scotland (Group 5 third place).

Top